Have you ever paid attention to the way you walk? I didn’t. Until I noticed an older woman walking hunched over – not by choice, but because the now-permanent curve in her spine wouldn’t allow her to straighten.
The writer in me asked, “Has she always walked with a stoop, or did she once walk proud, with her head high? If so, what changed? What weight did she take on that gave her that hunch?
Many have written about weights we carry. Burdens acquired through the difficulties of living – some willingly shouldered and others slung over our shoulders by family, friends, even well-meaning pastors or others we looked up to as wise. And, while these boulders may not have been of our making, we still agreed to keep them. By not choosing, we chose all the same.
Some writers have described these burdens as rocks in backpacks. Others as rocks on chains affixed to our ankles or around our waists. Whatever the word picture, the fact remains that these ideas, or activities, or responsibilities are not ordained for us by God.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.Galatians 5:1
This verse says clearly we have a choice. “Do not let yourselves be burdened…” We can stop it. So, how do we “stand firm”?
To me, the first thing we need to do is straighten our spines, hold up our heads and look around, then up. For those overburdened with responsibilities, rules, and to-do lists, looking up and noticing the beauty in the world can be hard, if not impossible. This is the beginning of that hump in our backs. When all we have time for (or take time for-because we’ll always have time for the things we prioritize) is rushing from one checklist to another, seeing our surroundings let alone enjoying them or appreciating their beauty, can be next to impossible.
As authors, we sometimes want to duck our heads because we don’t feel we fit in with others in our chosen profession. Perhaps we worry someone will discover we’re a child playing at writing in an adult world. Perhaps fear of disappointing those who’ve sacrificed to allow us time to pursue our dreams keeps our faces downcast. Or, perhaps it is some other hangup or words spoken by someone who meant well, but didn’t understand the God-given calling in your soul.
Whatever it is that forces you to study your feet, know it is not placed on you by God, nor is it likely anything that fellow authors believe about you. We often extrapolate feelings and opinions from others they don’t actually feel or express. Our insecurities (brought about by that devil whispering in your ear or sometimes by the fact we haven’t given our writing over to God) convince us that our feelings and impressions must be true – even when they are solely figments of our very active imaginations.
So, I challenge you to stand up. Lift your head and look around. Be fully present in the moment and allow yourself to relax and experience the freedom Jesus bought for you. Remove your weighted backpack and leave it on the ground. Refuse to pick it up again. Hold out the chains to Jesus and let him break the chains – permanently. Pray for the Holy Spirit to break the strongholds that imprison you in doubt, fear, and overachieverness (my word). Toss out the checklists that burden you (Note that not all checklists are bad.) and embrace the freedom of Christ’s resurrection. Walk tall in the abundant life he promised each of his adopted brothers and sisters.
Be who you were made to be and revel in the beauty surrounding you. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who stands smiling, arms outstretched to welcome you into his blessed freedom.
I’d love to hear your own stories about finding the true you beneath the world’s layers of lies. Reply and let’s chat!